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Valley's New Cases Drop, But Not Within Avenal State Prison - COVID-19 Update For Sept. 25

CA Dept of Corrections

As the COVID-19 caseload continues to fall in San Joaquin Valley communities, the opposite trend has been happening inside Avenal State Prison: With more than 2,500 cumulative cases, the facility now has the dubious honor of being the state prison with the highest cumulative case count. More than 250 men currently have active infections, and five have died.


So what is the prison and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation doing about the outbreak, and what has the experience been for men on the inside? Plus, where are Valley counties in the state’s reopening plan, and which counties are on a course to advance to less restrictive tiers?


This week’s COVID-19 update answers those questions and more, featuring excerpts from interviews with three men incarcerated at Avenal: Ed Welker, John Walker, and Thai Tran.


Here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication): 


As of Sept. 24: 

For comparison, as of Sept. 17: 

  • 1,221 deaths out of 94,077 cases
  • 317 people hospitalized and 70 in ICUs
  • In the last week, 79 people succumbed to the disease
  • Average cases reported daily in the last week: 391

You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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